Aquaponics

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Sill, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Sill

    Sill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This thread is for the discussion of Aquaponics.

    Aquaponics is the growing of plants and fish in a symbiotic system. It is a hybrid of Aquaculture, the growing of fish, and Hydroponics, the growing of plants in nutrient-rich water. In Aquaponic systems the fish waste fertilizes the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. Besides the fish and plants the system requires bacteria to change the fish waste into fertilizer that the plants can readily utilize and makes the waste less toxic to the fish.

    An Aquaponic system in the backyard can help us with our food budget, give us healthy food free from chemical spraying, help make us self-sufficient and is an excellent addition to homesteading and prepping.

    Though the system is water-based if actually saves water in the long run since it is a closed system.

    There are as many ways to build an aquaponic system as there are people. It will be interesting to see what people here come up with.

    Topics can include: types of grow media, suitable plants, best fish for your region, different types of systems, plumbing, tank configuration, etc.
     
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  2. scarecrw

    scarecrw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice job and description. I hope to follow along and learn from this topic. Will you be putting any pictures of your season here.
     
  3. Sill

    Sill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks scarecrw. Just learning myself. I'm getting the components together, so far some blue barrels and a few 330 gallon IBC totes which seem huge to me, well tall anyway. My DH wants to do a small system to start before he tackles a bigger one. We are hoping to grow most of our produce and be able to have a fish meal every week or two if we get everything he wants done. Here are the totes waiting to be used.

    [​IMG]

    These totes are about shoulder height on me, but the foot print is not that big. We are on a suburban lot that isn't too spacious so we try to squeeze everything we can into our available space. Being able to grow produce as well as fish in these makes them dual purpose. The eventual idea is to have the grow beds for the plants above the tank holding the fish. Since our climate is hot we chose Nile tilapia as our aquaponic fish. Right now we have 14 fingerlings in with our koi and goldfish. So far they are all getting along.
     
  4. rescueacres

    rescueacres Out Of The Brooder

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    Looks like you are off to a great start!
    We started small last year, lots of trial and error, but we learned a lot. Tried many different plants, gravel beds, floating beds, etc. this year I know how to do what I want. We had strawberries growing all winter in the garage :D Cucumbers don't handle aquaponics well, but tomatoes do!
     
  5. Sill

    Sill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great to have your own strawberries in winter!

    Strange how some plants do so well with aquaponics and others do not. Yes lots of trial and error, and I'm sure it will vary by region too.
     
  6. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    Hi Sill, I have an aquaponics system here in Tucson. It's been running now going on three years and it's been great fun. As you note, the challenge has been to figure out what does well in it and what should be left in the dirt. We have ~700 gallons in the ground and 500 gallons above ground with two gravel beds. I hope to add more gravel beds this summer. We're using tilapia but we also have a bunch of goldfish remaining from the original cycling of the system. Our favorite thing is the fall/winter lettuce, which we grow in pvc tubes. We're able to grow all that we can eat until the summer heat arrives. The trick is keeping up with it and planting more every week.

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    We've had great success with broccoli and cauliflower too.

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    Cucumbers did very well for us in the heat of summer.

    [​IMG]

    The Cuban oregano threatened to take over last summer.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Sill

    Sill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The amount of blooms you got on your cucumbers is amazing! Were you only using your fish waste for fertilizing your plants or did you supplement with anything? Looks like you use shade cloth in summer and plastic in winter.

    The cuban oregano looks interesting. Is it similar in flavor to mexican oregano or more like the mediterranean variety?

    It seems many herbs like to take over grow beds, but that can be good since I drink a lot of peppermint tea and I use up most of my soil grown mint for tea!
     
  8. rescueacres

    rescueacres Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, beautiful aquaponics garden! I would love some tips on cucumbers, ours grew great, bloomed wonderfully, but the fruits shriveled before they were an inch long due to so much moisture. How did you get yours to do so well?
     
  9. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    The cucumber blooms were amazingly prolific, unfortunately we were suffering a dearth of honeybees here in the city at the time and I had to hand pollinate them. [​IMG] The AP system is run almost entirely off the fish waste. I add potassium bicarbonate every few weeks to address pH issues and I add iron supplements in the form of seaweed extract every week. Yes, it's all in a hoop house that I cover with shade cloth in the summer and poly in the winter. One of the grow beds is located outside the greenhouse and all of the future grow beds will be too. Having most of the mass of water inside helps keep the water warm all winter long. I was able to keep it in the mid 60's for all but the coldest days this winter.

    The Cuban oregano is more like the Mediterranean variety and not as spicy as the Mexican. The huge leaves are awesome, that's a quarter in the pic.

    I'd be a little reluctant to put mint in a gravel bed, it might be difficult to stop it from spreading throughout the bed. I have it in the pvc tubes and it does well there.

    Good luck with your system and let us know how it goes!
     
  10. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    Thanks for the compliment! It sounds like you may have had blossom end rot, a condition usually caused by a calcium problem. This can sometimes be caused by inconsistent watering, but if you do a search for "blossom end rot cucumbers" you might be able to identify the cause of it in your circumstances. The good thing about the AP system is that watering is never inconsistent.
     

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